Ok, here's the deal. Whatever you read (watch, hear) in the US media about the upcoming election is probably greatly exaggerated. LePen will not win. LePen will most likely not go through to the runoff again. The Communist/Green/far-Left bloc won't get more than 20% or so, but it may be enough to put Bayrou through against Sarkozy, but Bayrou, not LePen.
Here's the most common misperception about the previous election: LePen was sent through because so many people liked him that he was voted through and this means that the entire country is xenophobic racists (ok, that may be true...but...). LePen got something like 17% of the popular vote in the first round...and in the second round...18% (he got 720,000 more votes in the 2nd round out of nearly 32 million voters). That means that even in a 1-on-1 runoff with Jack "You can't charge me with a crime while I'm in office" Chirac, he didn't get anymore (significant) votes. Expect LePen to get between 16-20% this election cycle too. France has problems and a lot of the former communists party supporters have switched to the Front National
because they don't feel that the Communist party was doing anything to help their plight. LePen is not at all extreme right economically; it's all social and the terroir-is-life
bunch is afraid of all the cheap food and products coming from other countries. LePen promises to stop this.
In the last election, LePen went through because the Left in France is not at all organized (and still isn't). In polls, the combined left represents about 35-45% of the population. But you have 3% who vote communist, 5% who vote green, 4% who vote moderate communist, 4% who vote for the other moderate communists and then 16-20% who vote for the Partie Socialiste
. What happened in 2002 is everyone voted with their "heart" in the first round. The "Left" got 49% of the votes, but Jospin only got 16.18% to LePen's 16.68% (this table is arranged
in left-to-right descending order). LePen benefited from this type of voting with your heart and/or protest voting - without naming names, I know people who vote FN in the first round, but would be horrified to see LePen as the president. However, there is a fairly strong cadre of extreme-righters who will always
vote for the FN. The Socialistes and the UMP (majority rightest party) don't draw the same sort of devotion. What this means, to me, is that even if LePen went through last time and even if he has a fairly strong say in parliament, he's not going to win the election. Sorry Christopher Hitchens
, the undecided 40% aren't going to vote LePen.
My call: The runoff is going to place either Sarkozy against Royal or Bayrou. Sarko vs Royal = Sarko Président. Sarko vs Bayrou = Bayrou. If its Bayrou v Royal = Bayrou. If LePen does go through, which isn't impossible, his opponent will win in the second round. In any case, I would hate to see Ségolène as the president. She offers absolutely nothing to the French. It's steady as she goes, but with everyone holding Le Tricolore
and singing La Marseillaise.
Sorry folks, the woman who thinks that the US is worse than Iran and the Taliban is in power would be a really bad thing for this country that desperately needs to change.
(fascist shortened) scares me a bit, I prefer his [relatively] liberal market views. Bayrou would probably be ok, but as the French say, he's a bit mou
(soft, undecided, wishy-washy) and I don't know that he's got the couilles
to make a difference. Royal would just be a 5-year plague who would make the country a worst place to live. Of course if LePen wins, I'm moving back to the States (and you can quote me on that), but I truly believe that this is an empty threat.
(thanks to Les Fakes de Lobo
for the photochops)